After a week of much drama, with The Sowetan reporting that an apparently sickly Sam “Mshengu” Chabalala was not allowed to see family and friends due to allegations that a laptop and cellphones were smuggled into his hospital ward, he will finally appear to apply for bail today in the Witbank Magistrates’ Court.
There have also been unconfirmed reports circulating on Twitter overnight that his “manager” was shot and killed in Bethal.
The Citizen is working to verify this.
The Hawks, the elite police unit that arrested him last Friday after he allegedly paid a bribe to a home affairs official to shut down an investigation of his citizenship, raided his private hospital room on Wednesday.
The twenty-something businessman, who owns trucking company Sam Holdings, had been admitted to hospital in Emalahleni on Monday night after complaining about “stomach complications” in what reports said might have been food poisoning, or just stress.
The Hawks revealed in a statement on Monday that Chabalala was arrested on charges of alleged bribery, corruption, possession of an unlicensed firearm and fraud in terms of contravening the Immigration Act.
He was nabbed at a restaurant at Emalahleni’s Highveld Mall after an alleged attempt to pay home affairs officials R40,000 “to destroy reports of a fraudulently obtained South African identity document against him”, said the Hawks.
The Hawks’ Serious Commercial Crimes Investigation unit swooped on him shortly afterwards and found an unlicensed firearm in his vehicle, a green Mercedes-Benz, one of many luxury cars he owns.
On Monday, there was a fair bit of drama outside court when supporters arrived in a fleet of flashy cars to support him.
An investigation of Chabalala’s citizenship status had earlier been initiated by the department of home affairs, with reports suggesting that he is actually from Zimbabwe and may have allegedly obtained his South African citizenship illegally. The Hawks, however, are apparently still trying to ascertain where he really comes from.
The Sowetan reported that he allegedly only got his ID in 2015 and the woman he claimed was his mother allegedly said she’d never heard of him. Bethal Hospital apparently also had no record of his claimed birth.
The accused’s lawyer, however, told the tabloid that the state had a “weak case” and would struggle to prove it.
Most South Africans had never heard of the young millionaire until he became the face of a flashy convoy of supercars that travelled to the Durban July this year.
At the time, The Citizen reported that “Mshengu” was an Mpumalanga-based businessman who set tongues wagging after having the longest convoy at the event, boasting top-of-the-range cars, with many asking how he had made his money. Of the 72 cars, 10 were his.
Claiming to be born in Makwarela, Venda, he opened up on radio in July about his difficult upbringing and how he eventually made it in the logistics business.
He registered his company, Sam Holdings Trading, in 2014 and used his boss’ trucks to start his business.
“I got a contract even when I didn’t have a truck at the time. I took my boss’ trucks and registered them. I was getting a commission of R10 at the time. I worked for a long time and raised money to buy my own truck. I could make R300,000 a month with commission and salary at the time.”
He kept working and saving money until it got to R3 million. He used the money to buy three trucks and trailers cash.
“Now I have 52 trucks running on the road with machines and plant hire. That’s how I made my money. I’ve never been involved in anything illegal. I do transport with Eskom, but I’m also venturing into mining now with my own mine. It’s all my mind and planning and the mercy of God,” he said.